Parental Love in “Harry Potter”

The Harry Potter series have finally ended.  My kids and I watched the final film[Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2]  last weekend.  They are probably too young to share my sentimental feelings about this ending. But I’m sure when they get older, they will look back at this experience with pleasure. Like millions of other kids out there, they are completely awed by these movies. Their love for the story has infected their mother as well. It was my eldest Athena who introduced the HP to the family.  I can’t recall how she knew about it but when she was in fourth grade, she asked me to buy her a Harry Potter book.  After she finished reading the first book, we bought DVD’s of the films.  From the time we witnessed cute little Harry enter Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, we were all hooked.

There are a lot of things about HP that amaze me.  I read one fan’s doubt regarding the literary worthiness of the books and how she would not mind if there isn’t much.  I say otherwise however.  JK Rowling has effectively used parallelism and juxtaposition to compare and contrast characters and the events in their lives, and, eventually project the theme of love, specifically that of a parent’s for his/her child and how this love can become an enormous force that dictates actions.  To protect Harry, his mother Lily casts a spell that will make it impossible for Voldemort to harm him [till he turns 17, in which case, Harry would escape and finally defeat his nemesis with the help of people who love him and whom he loved so much that he was willing to die for them].  For all his misfortune of being left an orphan, and, growing up ill-treated by  his only relatives, Harry is nevertheless surrounded by love in Hogwarts–be it from his most loyal friends Ron and Hermione, the Weasleys, Ginny, his professors specially Hagrid and Dumbledore, his godfather Sirius, members of the Order and DA, or yes, ironically enough, Severus Snape who, behind his villainous portrayal, was actually driven to treachery and faced constant danger to secure Harry, all for his great love for Lily. With all the affection and care he continually receives from these witches and wizards, it is no wonder Harry has enough confidence to defeat Voldemort.  In glaring contrast however, Tom Riddle has never known tenderness and parental love [being unwanted by his Muggle father and whose oppressed witch-mother dies on him at childbirth], and whose predilection for evil is nurtured untamed and unchecked, growing into monstrous proportions .  There is only one kind of love that Voldemort knows:  the love for power.  In yet further juxtaposition, Dumbledore is aware of his great powers and abilities. However, unfortunate circumstances and the death of the person he loves, has forced him to examine his conscience and eventually use his power, for good of both the Wizard and Muggle worlds.

Time and again, Voldemort reveals his ignorance about love. When he finally regains his human form, he scoffs at Lily’s devotion to Harry and revels in his belief that he is immortal.  He surrounds himself with his equally evil Death Eaters who stick with him in an unholy alliance of greed, perversion, hatred and cruelty.  Their “loyalty” to Voldemort, if any, stems from their fear of him.   It is sad that in the end, it is his limited vision that causes his downfall.  He does not realize that the courage and the willingness to die is more powerful than immortality.  When Harry proposes that he be remorseful to save his soul, the idea is not only preposterous but incomprehensible to Voldemort.  For him, there is only rage and revenge.  When he sees Bellatrix felled by Mrs Weasley, he does not understand the latter’s compunction to protect her children.  Finally, when Narcissa Malfoy deceives Voldemort into thinking that Harry is dead, he has no way of knowing what a mother will do to keep her child safe. For despite the Malfoy’s fear of his power, their love and loyalty for Draco outshine every other consideration.  This scene is very crucial because by hitting Harry with the killing curse, Voldemort unknowingly deprives himself of another horcrux, and at the same time making Harry  vulnerable.

JK Rowling’s success with foreshadowing  makes the story compact and tight. Her use of folklore, mythology and oral tradition have all contributed much to the richness and  creativity of her work.

The books are indeed replete with literary attributes which I would be more than happy to explore. But this will have to do for now.


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